ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)
RatCreature ([personal profile] ratcreature) wrote2017-06-24 09:14 pm
Entry tags:

surely English also has a word or expression for this...

I'm wondering what the English equivalent for the German "Aktionismus" is.

In German this is a usually pejorative term to describe activities somebody (often people in a position of power but accountable to the public, more rarely subordinates under pressure from above) undertakes to be visibly seen as "doing something" to address a problem, but the actions are not well thought out, unlikely to really solve or improve the situation, but are (at least from the perspective of the speaker making the charge of something being "Aktionismus") done wholly or partly to provide cover against the accusation of inactivity or indifference.

Like when you hastily implement "security theater" measures against a real security threat, because you can't think of any actual solution to improve security for real, but not doing anything and admitting to having no solution would be politically very costly. Opponents then might accuse you of "Aktionismus".

So "Aktionismus" is a general term for hasty, thoughtless responses of this type, used by opponents of the actions. It is often coupled with "blind" as in "blinder Aktionismus" to emphasize the lack of plan or vision to arrive at a real solution.

It is similar to the accusation that something is merely a "symbolic action" but that implies more a deliberate gesture lacking concrete results, whereas "Aktionismus" is more of a harmful flailing around.

"Aktionismus" has also some sort of specialized meaning for some performance art movement from Vienna, and apparently the word "actionism" exists in English in the translation for that Austrian art, but it doesn't seem to be used in the colloquial sense. But clearly this is a common phenomenon (and accusation) in politics, so there ought to be an English term.

(Anonymous) 2017-06-24 09:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Maybe "smoke & mirrors"
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)

[personal profile] st_aurafina 2017-06-25 01:32 am (UTC)(link)
I think there's a phrase, but of course now I can't think of it - something like 'busy work', maybe? But that's not quite as shady sounding as 'Aktionismus'.

I like 'Aktionismus'- maybe we should adopt it.

sulien: Made from my favorite photo of Big Lagoon, Humboldt, CA (Default)

[personal profile] sulien 2017-06-25 05:03 am (UTC)(link)
'Grandstanding' is the only word I can think of, but it doesn't convey quite the same meaning. I agree with [profile] st_arafina, 'aktionismus' is a great word we could really use these days in the US.
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)

[personal profile] neotoma 2017-06-25 10:34 am (UTC)(link)
I don't think we have a word that has exactly the same meaning as 'aktionmus', but we'll happily steal it if we don't. English has sticky fingers like that; we just need someone to popularize the use.

(Anonymous) 2017-06-25 05:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Possibly "song & dance"
saraht: "...legwork" (Default)

[personal profile] saraht 2017-06-26 07:04 am (UTC)(link)
English definitely has the concept, just not, I think, a single word. Probably I'd call it "action for its own sake/for the sake of action" or "doing x for appearance's sake" (though that's a little more general).